Cover: France’s Long Reconstruction: In Search of the Modern Republic, from Harvard University PressCover: France’s Long Reconstruction in HARDCOVER

France’s Long Reconstruction

In Search of the Modern Republic

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Product Details


$46.50 • £37.95 • €42.00

ISBN 9780674976412

Publication Date: 01/08/2018


416 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

15 halftones


Although much work has been done on the history of France since the war, Chapman’s focus on policy offers new insights on familiar terrain. In focusing on the tensions between top-down technocratic reform and bottom-up democratic reform, he has radically changed the paradigm through which we see this history. After Chapman’s France’s Long Reconstruction, we will never look at French history in the same way again.—Hugh Drochon, The Nation

A fascinating new history of the Fifth Republic.—Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker

[An] absorbing study of France’s state-led economic and social regeneration in the decades following the Second World War… Chapman finds Tocquevillian elements of continuity across the whole period, and argues provocatively that the events of 1958 were much less consequential when seen in terms of their effect on state power.—Sudhir Hazareesingh, London Review of Books

A powerful and original revision of the conventional narrative of the rebuilding of France after the Second World War. Chapman examines a fundamental question about modern democracy, namely how to reconcile administrative expertise with democratic participation. The book reminds us that democratic consensus does not necessarily beget coherent or effective policy. This is an important contribution to the history of modern Europe.—Richard Kuisel, Georgetown University

In this impressive book, Chapman traces the very process by which contemporary France was constructed. He shows that postwar reconstruction was an evolving and unending trial between state leadership and democratic practice to work out the limits of each. The contestation between top-down power and bottom-up participation not only persisted; the one fed upon the other’s initiatives and reactions and thus deepened and institutionalized, bequeathing to contemporary France the distinctive state–society relationship that governs to the present day.—Michael B. Miller, University of Miami

This compelling book demonstrates how France’s postwar order was as much created from below by an activist citizenry as it was created from above by experts. Chapman takes a long-term perspective that allows him to detail the continuities between the Fourth and Fifth Republics as well as to highlight the impact of the Algerian War on the strengthening of executive power. Essential reading for anyone interested in the history and politics of postwar France.—Philip Nord, Princeton University

Chapman explores the famous fractiousness of modern French politics from a variety of different perspectives. At the heart of these conflicts he finds a sharp and enduring tension between technocracy and democracy, between the goals of intellectuals, government leaders, and planners on the one hand, and a variety of popular interest groups on the other. This is an excellent study of how a nation sought to rebuild itself after catastrophe, to plan for the future rather than replicate the past, and how it did and did not succeed in attaining that goal. It is a fascinating tale, with important implications for our own time.—Tyler Stovall, University of California, Santa Cruz

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